Sorry for the long gap! 7.2 came out, and I played. I’ve also been writing copious amounts of fiction for my Patreon, so no time to capture my thoughts on 7.2!
So, 7.2 has been out about a week now, and there is tons to talk about, even if the namesake raid of the patch is not available.
Cathedral of Eternal Night: I enjoyed the new 5 player dungeon a lot. It’s visual palette is gorgeous, and there are some fun mechanics, especially towards the end. That being said, it is the modern WoW 5 player dungeon in a nutshell – there’s one path, a couple of fakeouts that you learn to dodge, bosses with about 1 gimmick per role per boss, and so the gameplay isn’t that much different. I do love that it is a highly vertical dungeon – we don’t get enough of that in WoW, and it does a good job of creating the illusions of choice and space, which are key in breaking up the perception of the dungeon’s actual linearity.
Broken Shore: It’s pretty cool! They did a good job of showing forward progress on the island since we first took to it in the Legion intro event. There are cool new ship ruins, small bits of reclaimed land, and the thematic toolkit is strong – all of the class orders, all of the Broken Isles denizens, and the heroes of Azeroth, all fighting together. I also enjoy that it has no emissary quest, instead getting the Legionfall resources mechanic to function in that role. The building choice seems like it will be cool, but so far, only one building has opened on NA realms (which we will get to momentarily…)
World Scaling: In case you avoided the absolute salt-mine of comments on the WoW forums about this, the world mobs in all of Broken Isles now scale slightly to item level as well. This was bugged on patch day, which caused a freakish shit storm. I was originally debating writing a full post about just this, but I think the community has softened now that it is implemented correctly. To sum up – I think the scaling, as explained by Blizzard, is fine – mobs scale around 850 ilvl and only increase about 1-3% in power to every 5% power you gain, meaning that they will never match you, and you still outpace their power creep. Since it starts around 850, and the mobs were initially tuned for a fresh 110, around item level 795 or so, this means that even once they start gaining in power, it’s not that much, and even the worst increases still keeps them in the low-to-mid 800’s in terms of power. Other than zealous overpulling as Havoc, I haven’t really had problems with this, and it has actually saved me time (one of the stated intentions!) as I was able to tag a world quest target before it died at another player’s hands. That being said – Blizzard should have announced this, and should not have snuck it in. Even if their intentions were good (and I do generally believe that they were), it only looks bad, and creates confusion and animosity to implement the change in this way.
Patch Intro Scenario/Quests: These were pretty cool. A bit short, but I enjoyed them. The fact that we have to retake the Broken Shore, lorewise, makes a lot of sense, and the gameplay from it, while basic, does a good enough job setting the tone for what is to come.
Dungeon Scaling: Haven’t really done many dungeons post-patch, but those that I have done, I haven’t really noticed them getting harder. The end result of the changes feels like Heroics drop purples now, and Mythics drop good gear (although not for my 900 DH haha). I haven’t been able to do a Mythic Plus post-patch, but I hear they’re still pretty cool, and the low-end challenge increase seems to be well-received by people who’ve been pushing those hard since launch.
Various Little Improvements: Open all button in mail is a godsend, goodbye Postal! I like that the profession world quests also give skillups now – I have an incentive to do the last few Enchanting ones to get up to 800 skill. Obliterum forge being available to all characters will help my alts a lot – I only ever unlocked it on my DH and Priest, so now, my 110 alts with functional but not great gear can get some crafted stuff and upgrade it pretty quick.
Artifact Empowerment: Love this change. Artifact power was becoming less of an incentive to log on, and that was nice. It still isn’t going to make me hop on every day, but I feel like the new traits are very nice, and I want to hit the 4th gold in Vengeance before Tomb of Sargeras opens, for sure. On Havoc, having the full 15% damage increase between the old Paragon trait and the starter trait of the new path means soloing old raids got a lot faster – I can do a full Heroic/Mythic MoP clear of all raids in under 90 minutes, including travel and vendor time, which helps keep me paying for the game with WoW Tokens. Hooray! It also helped our raid to finally knock over Heroic Star Augur and Heroic Botanist in Nighthold, so I am happy with that. It feels like once I get one rank into Concordance of the Legionfall, I could feasibly stop and focus all AP on my Havoc weapon, which I think will be helpful to my goals. Especially since I enjoy doing most world quests as Havoc.
Artifact Appearance Challenge: Fuck. This is difficult! My impression of what they announced at Blizzcon was that we’d be getting spec specific challenges. We sort of did…but they are shared by similar specs. For Vengeance, this means all tanks get dropped into the room from Mythic Archimonde to fight on. I tried it twice, and it seems to be ridiculous. Mobs hit very hard, and the amount of things happening is insane.
Which, interestingly, makes me like it more. For people without a Mythic-level raid team, this is a crazy challenge, but one that will sharpen your skills as a player. It will also, undeniably, get easier with Tomb of Sargeras gear. The fact you have to do it per-spec is great, because it means if you see someone who has the weapon appearance for an off-spec, you know they are pretty good. I’d imagine this either scales up when Argus hits, or simply gets easier then, at which point, you will probably see more people with the appearance, but still – not too many. This is arguably more prestigious than Mythic-variant armor, since it requires crazy skill to unlock and currently cannot be cheesed with carries or anything of the sort.
Overall, this is a strong start to a new cycle of Legion content, and this staggered approach really makes the content feel fresh. Sure, at the end of the day, the core of the expansion’s launch content is still what we are playing – world quests, Artifact Power, researching and waiting for Artifact Knowledge, doing dungeons, and then doing them on higher difficulty, and then doing them on even higher difficulty for time, and the excellent raid bosses. The core of what Legion was (and most of the elements that have made Legion strong) are there still, but now you have more choices. You can do an emissary, and then the Broken Shore WQs. You can do dungeons…but heroic queues now include launch dungeons, Kara wings, and Cathedral, so there’s a greater variety of stuff to do. And artifact power scaling has grown out of hand…but so has the Artifact Knowledge system, and with it, the exponential leaps in required AP per trait aren’t so outlandish.
All of that, and we still have a Legionfall campaign, invasions, class hall quests, and the Tomb of Sargeras on the horizon.